Twice-a-Year FMLA: Can You Take Leave More Than Once?

FMLA, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons. In some cases, employees may be able to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered servicemember.

However, a common question that arises is whether an employee can take FMLA twice in one year. In this article, we will explore this question and provide answers to help employees better understand their leave options.

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Understanding FMLA Leave

FMLA, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain family or medical reasons without the fear of losing their job or health insurance coverage.

Eligible employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, and work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

Reasons for taking FMLA leave include the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child; caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition; the employee’s own serious health condition that makes them unable to work; and any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status.

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In certain cases, eligible employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

Can I Take FMLA Twice in One Year?

Yes, under certain conditions, an employee can take FMLA leave twice in a single year. FMLA allows for a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for an eligible employee to care for themselves, a spouse, or a child with a serious health condition, or for the birth or adoption of a child.

It also allows an employee to take leave to care for a covered service member or for a qualifying exigency caused by a covered family member‘s military deployment.

While an employee cannot take more than 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a single year, they are entitled to what is called FMLA “renewal” or “recharge.” This means that if an employee has taken all of their 12 weeks of FMLA leave and then returns to work, they will be entitled to an additional 12 weeks of leave once the 12-month period for FMLA resets.

Additionally, employees may be eligible for multiple uses of FMLA in a single year if they have a separate, qualifying reason for leave. For example, if an employee takes 6 weeks of FMLA leave to care for their child with a serious health condition, they may still be eligible for an additional 6 weeks of leave later in the year if they need to care for a parent with a serious health condition.

Finally, it is important to note that employers may have their own policies regarding employee leave that are more generous than what is required by FMLA. It’s always recommended to check with your employer’s HR department to fully understand your rights and options for taking leave.

How Long Can I Take FMLA Leave?

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave per year for specified family or medical reasons. These reasons include the birth, adoption, or placement of a child, caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, or the employee’s own serious health condition that makes them unable to perform their job.

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However, in certain circumstances, eligible employees may be able to take FMLA leave beyond the standard 12 weeks. For example, if the employee needs to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness, they may take up to 26 weeks of leave within a single 12-month period.

Additionally, some states have their own family and medical leave laws that may provide employees with more time off or different eligibility requirements.

Military Leave under FMLA

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to take job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. If an employee or their spouse, parent, or child is a military member, they have the right to take military caregiver leave under the FMLA.

Military caregiver leave entitles the eligible employee to take up to 26 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

In addition, if an employee is a military member themselves, they have the right to take leave for certain qualifying exigencies related to their military service, such as attending military events or arranging for childcare while the military member is away. Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying exigencies related to their military service.

It is important to note that the 26 workweeks of military caregiver leave and the 12 weeks of leave for qualifying exigencies are separate entitlements. An eligible employee may take both types of leave within a single 12-month period, but they are not required to take both.

Combining FMLA Leave with State and Local Leave Laws

When an employee is eligible for both FMLA and state or local leave laws, they may have the ability to combine the two and take additional time off. In New Jersey, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and an additional 12 weeks of leave under the New Jersey Family and Medical Leave Act (NJFMLA) during any 24-month period.

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It is important to note that while the two leave laws may overlap, they do have key differences. For example, the NJFMLA provides leave for a wider range of family members, including siblings, parents-in-law, and grandparents.

Additionally, the NJFMLA allows for leave to be taken to care for a child who is experiencing a serious health condition, while the FMLA only covers care for a child who has a serious health condition and is under the age of 18.

When an employee is eligible for both FMLA and state or local leave laws, it is important to follow the specific guidelines and requirements for each law to ensure that their rights and job protections are properly enforced.

Can an Employer Deny Your Request for FMLA Leave?

An employer can only deny an employee’s request for FMLA leave if the employee is ineligible or if the situation does not meet the FMLA requirements. To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked at least 12 months with the employer and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous year.

FMLA also only applies to companies that employ at least 50 people. However, if the employee meets these requirements and has a qualifying reason for leave, an employer cannot deny the request for FMLA leave.

If an employer denies an employee’s request for FMLA leave without a valid reason, they are violating FMLA regulations. Consequences of non-compliance include payment of wages, benefits and other compensation denied or lost due to the violation.

An employee can file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for non-compliance with FMLA regulations.

Conclusion

It is important for employees to understand their rights and the rules associated with taking FMLA leave. Employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for specified family and medical reasons, with continuation of group health insurance coverage.

It is also possible to take up to 26 workweeks of leave in a single 12-month period for any FMLA-qualifying reason, including caring for a covered servicemember. Employers may occasionally miss a deadline to respond to an employee’s FMLA request or designation, but it is the responsibility of the employee to ensure that they are eligible and qualified for FMLA leave.

If an employee does need legal assistance, they should seek out the help of qualified Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in their state.

References

Lora Turner
 

Lora Turner is an Experienced HR professional worked with the large organizations and holding 15 years of experience dealing with employee benefits. She holds expertise in simplifying the leave for the employee benefits. Contact us at: [email protected]